OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Many students are nearing the end of their distance learning as summer approaches -- but with most sports programs and extra-curriculars cut, a community organization is working to ensure teens and young adults have safe and productive summers.
The Step Up program provides summer jobs and internships for hundreds of teens and young adults.
It's facing new challenges due to the pandemic.
"We've had a lot of employers say, you know, we're working from home or the CDC has recommended that we don't have individuals come into our lobby or to come into our spaces and places, and so that has limited the number of employers that we've had in the past that are able to return with us," said Step Up Employment Director Moniki Cannon.
Cannon said last year, about 250 16 to 21-year-olds secured positions through Step Up.
They hoped to increase that number to 350 this summer.
"More than ever before, with sports programs and youth programs being cut and also a lot of jobs being cut, this is really an important year for us to make sure we are still a staple in this community and that we are here to serve and support our families," said Cannon.
The program now needs companies of all sizes and trades to step up and provide jobs for youth.
Ashlei Spivey and Universal Allah own Best Burger in Florence and plan to hire a student this summer.
“It gives them the opportunity to see what it actually takes to run a business, what's going on,” said Allah.
Other changes include moving the 8-week career exploration program online.
"As we take that online, we're going to teach those essential soft skills online, we're going to have guest speakers coming in online and we hope to have some national presence even. Because we're not limited to who is local this year, so that is a positive," said Cannon.
If you're interested in hiring a student or volunteering to speak with students online, reach out to the Empowerment Network.